Father in law drinks and is difficult

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Father in law drinks and is difficult
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 10:07am
Need some help...

My husband and I have been married for two years, and have a son 18months...My husband’s stepfather (my father in law) has been a cause of anxiety for me from day one. The first time I met him was at dinner with his wife (my husband's mother). He had been drinking a lot, and to make a long story short, was cracking rude jokes all night, was insulting to his wife, the waiter, and just made me very uncomfortable. I tried to make the best of it by making light of the situation, and tried to smile whenever possible. My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, acted like nothing was wrong, and so did his mother (they just deal with it). It’s important to note, that the father in law thought the night went just fine.

Since that night, there have been many other occasions that I have experienced this behavior, from him, and my husband and mother-in-law (nonchalance/ non-confrontational) from them). The Father in-law is a stubborn man, and he generally is a hard-liner, who is hard to confront. Now that we have a child, it makes matters even worse. His parents watch our 18 month-old two days a week, and on several occasions I have smelled alcohol on my father in-law's breath when I have picked my son up. I should note however, that my son is always only supervised from the grandmother, who I have to admit, is a really nice person to me and my son, and I feel confidant, that she is a good caregiver to him while I’m at work.

The father-in law I speak about, can be nice and pleasant at times however, but I can’t shake the feelings I have from this Dr. Jekle Mr Hyde. Therefore I usually have anxiety when we go over to visit the in-laws, and generally don’t like being around him. But I try to do my best for my husband.

Lately, however, it seems that my husband’s parents have been sensing my anxiety and uneasy feelings about going over there, and confronted me the other day. The father in law started yelling at me saying that I was disrespectful to them and always rushing in and out and not being very “family like”. I was late picking up my son one night and called my husband to see if he could pick my son up, but my husband wasn’t able to phone soon enough to let them know. I apologized for not phoning in person, and explained why it happened (there was traffic and a storm on my way home from work), and said that I would for sure call next time (this was an isolated incident on my case). I felt like screaming at the father in law, for the sheer hypocrisy of all of it, that he was demanding respect from – me! How about giving some respect to his family and me by not drinking and being rude and generally hard to get along with! But I held my temper, and tried to keep my composure. I did however, explain to him that he was hard to get along with at times, and therefore might mis-intrerpret my actions toward him as being hostile, when I was just trying to deal with the whole situation. His mom walked me out to my car, with my son. And, needles to say I started crying, and told her that I was just sick and tired of the whole thing, and brought up some experiences I had with him in the past, and told her that I didn’t know what the expected of me. How could anyone with any pride be expected to deal with this everyday, and let (the father-in-law) get away with his actions.

I really don’t know what to do anymore, it’s effecting my relationship with my husband, - who basically thinks I am overreacting to everything.

Please help with comments/suggestions.

Edited 3/28/2003 11:14:58 AM ET by mimirk

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 10:32am
I'm a lurker but I just had to jump in on this one.

I could have written your post exactly (with the exception of having a child). My FIL is an alcoholic and it's getting worse. It's gotten to the point that I refuse to go over there if he's drinking and I refuse to have him at my house if he's drinking. This man doesn't even respect his family enough to refrain from getting completely lit on *Christmas*!

Regardless of the fact that your MIL is the primary caregiver for your child I still feel that it's probably not the best situation for your child to be in. My FIL started out much like yours and has progressed to the point where he yells, screams, throws TVs and VCRs off dressers and is incredibly mean to my MIL. She keeps staying with him even though all 3 of her children are telling her to get out. (And yes, he is the father of all 3)

What amazes me is that my SIL, who is encouraging her mother to get out of the marriage and come stay with her, continues to drop her two children off at the ILs house every single weekend. When FIL is drinking he is obnoxious and mean to everyone, including his grandsons. How she can continue to subject her children to this behavior is beyond me.

The problem with DHs family is that everyone just tries to ignore the alcoholism and winds up being classic enablers. I'm the only person in the family that expresses my disagreement with it. Heaven forbid we make FIL mad.

This turned into my own little gripe, but I want to say that my thoughts are with you. I certainly understand that it's not easy to deal with and it likely won't go away without a change in thought from a lot of people. I have had al-anon recommended to me before. I've thought about going but haven't wanted to upset DH. I'm starting to change my mind on that.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 10:44am
Hi Meg,

Thank you for your support, it's nice to get it from somewhere. May I ask, what is a


I do have to admit, that I haven't ever experienced any violent behavior ever from my FIL. And, and that whenever my son is over, he is gentle towards him, and generally ok. But I still don't like it even if he has 1 or two beers,I think it's irresponsible. Even though he isn't ever out my my MIL's care. If I ever noticed any agressive behavior or worry for my son, I agree that it is imperiitive to get him out of the situation.

mimi :O)

Edited 3/28/2003 11:46:15 AM ET by mimirk

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 11:36am
Al-anon is a support group for people who have family or friends that are alcoholics. It's intended to partner with Alcoholics anonymous.

Good luck with everything!


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 10:50am
Hi mimirk, welcome to the board!!!

Your FIL sounds like he has a serious drinking problem. It isn't something he has control over, other than to realize that he has a problem and accepts the fact he has a problem and wants to do something about it.

From what I understand it is very hard to live with someone who has a drinking problem. Lots of times it isn't a matter of "allowing someone to act like that" but the people around that person feel helpless and sometimes think, "if only I did this he/she would stop drinking," and they keep trying in hopes of getting the person to stop. Obviously, this is a false hope because the only way he will stop drinking is if HE WANTS TO STOP.

A person with a serious drinking problem leaves scars on those around them. There is a book called "Adult Children of Alcoholics." If you read that book, I think you will gain some insight as to what is going on with his wife, etc.

I understand your frustration. If he makes you uncomfortable, try to limit the times you see him or conversations you have with him. I am sure everyone else is uncomfortable with his drinking, but they aer in the situation deeper than you, such as his wife, and she is living with him.

Hope this helps.

Avatar for mom2danjam
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 5:25pm
No offense, Stretch.I know I am going to sound unsympathetic to drunkards, but here goes: Your FIL CAN help it. There are plenty of people out there who control their actions, and the same goes for drunks and druggies. A friend of my mom's quit drinking totally on his own, and he was really a die-hard drunk. It can be done. I would not allow my son around FIL, if I were you. You and DH have to make a stand, IMO. Either FIL chooses to get help and quit being a drunk, or he doesn't spend time alone with your son. It is his choice. He is an adult, at least chronologically anyway. It is NOT a disease. A disease is something you catch that you cannot help catching. NO ONE makes anyone drink or do drugs. THAT is called a CHOICE. I don't care what psychological mumbo jumbo disagrees with me, either.
Avatar for nmitford
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 10:33am
My MIL is an end-stage alcoholic, which means that her doctors have given her only a year or two at most to live if she does not quit drinking now. And, even if she were to stop drinking now, she has undoubtedly taken years off of her life because of the drinking. One reason that her behavior became so entrenched is that her family (DH, FIL, and 2 BILs) were doing their utmost to insulate her from the consequences of her behavior. And, it sounds like that's what's happening here. Personally, I think that one of the consequences of your FIL's behavior should be that he is no longer allowed to spend time around your child.

We like your friends and we LOVE your mom -- Terri Clark "Girls Lie Too"